On Thursday, April 11, the Senate voted to roll back the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act, limiting the web-based publication of government employees’ personal financial information. This action comes in response to a federal court ruling that such publication violated employees’ right to privacy and a critical report by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).
“The court recognized that the federal employees have a
legitimate right to privacy regarding their personal financial
information and ruled that the federal government failed to identify a
compelling government interest that would justify posting that personal
information on the internet,” says Kathleen Clark, JD, government ethics
expert and professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.
The STOCK Act would require Internet posting of the annual financial interest forms for 28,000 executive branch employees. Financial interest forms detail information about assets, outside income and gifts. The Senate bill would limit such posting to elected officials, congressional candidates, and Senate-confirmed presidential appointees.
The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) recently issued a report mandated by Congress on the STOCK Act. The report includes Clark’s findings on the STOCK Act:
“For legislators the primary function of these forms is political accountability: assisting the public in assessing whether the financial interests of elected legislators are politically acceptable. Legislators stand for reelection on a regular basis, and their constituents can take into account whether the financial interests of a member (or a nonincumbent candidate) are acceptable when deciding how to vote,” writes Clark in a chapter on the STOCK Act in the forthcoming International Handbook on Transparency.
To read the complete NAPA report visit: